Chicago -- BUY
Home price gains needed to make buying a better deal: 4.26%
Historical average gain: 4.75%

Chicago home prices have recorded steady -- but not spectacular gains -- over the years, and the median price in the metro area has reached $210,000, about a third higher than the national median.

That is down, though, about 32% from peak, making buying much more attractive now than it was during the boom. Prices are now about 23 times annual rents.

Prices would now only have to rise a little more than 4% a year for buying to be the better option, and the historical rate of increase is a bit higher than that.

Last updated May 13 2011: 12:43 PM ET
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